Quickly closing in on 30 years together as a band, Chicago's Novembers Doom are set to release their tenth platter of dark metal, titled Hamartia, on The End Records. Combining a melancholy mix of doom & death metal, Novembers Doom have never actually fit into any tidy classification, which is one of the many things that have made them an intriguing band for so many years. Hamartia contains 10 tracks of pulverizing anguish, produced by Chris Djuricic and mixed by metal legend Dan Swanö, and featuring the line-up of Paul Kuhr (founder/vocalist), Larry Roberts (guitars), Vito Marchese (guitars), Mike Feldman (bass), and Garry Naples (drums), with guests that include Ben Johnson on keyboards, Rhiannon Kuhr on backing vocals ("Ever After," "Miasma," "Zephyr"), Andrew Craighan (My Dying Bride) on guitar melody ("Waves In The Red Cloth"), Bernt Fjellestad (Susperia) on backing vocals ("Borderline"), and Dan Swanö on backing vocals ("Borderline").
As always, it's Kuhr's multi-faceted vocal attack that is the centerpiece of Novembers Doom, and you can hear it right from the outset on the crushing "Devils Light" with his excellent growls & venomous rasps as he saddles up alongside meaty riffs and spooky keys. The pace slows down for the next two, "Plague Bird" and "Ghost", the former a more textured and dramatic number with gothic overtones featuring Kuhr's melancholy clean vocal approach mixing with growls, the latter a dark, emotional tune with lilting guitar chords and melodic vocals, not far removed from what we might hear from Katatonia. Roberts and Marchese deliver some memorable riffing on "Ever After", another moody mid-paced number with some sizzling lead & acoustic guitar passages, while the chilling title track is a vehicle for Kuhr's pained vocal and tender piano. Those that love the more brutal, death metal side to this band will love the pummeling "Apostasy" as well as "Zephyr", both containing some raging arrangements and growling/clean vocal battles. One of the more adventurous tunes here is "Miasma", which brings together some prog elements thanks to intricate acoustic guitar, lead bass, complex drum patterns, female vocals, and some brooding atmosphere. Opeth instantly comes to mind on this one. Closing out the album are the doom laden yet epic sounds of "Waves in the Red Cloth" (great riffs and drumming on this one!) and the dreamy, 9-minute "Borderline", the latter of which has some truly gorgeous moments early on before slowly building into a prog/doom/gothic gem of majestic beauty.
Honestly, these guys never put out a bad album, and Hamartia is another in a long line of outstanding releases from this band. If your metal tastes gravitate toward the doomy, dark, gothic and death side of things, you'll need to investigate this one immediately.
01. Devils Light
02. Plague Bird
04. Ever After
09. Waves In The Red Cloth